A Norwegian politician has nominated the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA for the Nobel Peace Prize, Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday.
Labour MP Asmund Aukrust nominated the agency “for its long-term work to provide vital support to Palestine and the region in general.”
This work “has been crucial for over 70 years, and even more vital in the last three months,” said Aukrust, who is vice-chairman of Norway’s parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
UNRWA is under fire after The New York Times broke the story last month that 12 staff members took part in Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, in which terrorists rampaged through Israel’s south, murdering some 1,200 people.
The Wall Street Journal subsequently reported that one in 10 UNRWA employees in Gaza is either an active member of or has ties to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Israeli Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Eylon Levy said on Jan. 30 that Israeli intelligence “indicates that out of approximately 12,000 UNRWA employees in the Gaza Strip, about 10% are Hamas or Islamic Jihad operatives, and another 50% are first-degree relatives of a Hamas operative.”
At least 15 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, suspended funding to the organization following the revelations. The United States is UNRWA’s largest donor, giving the group $422 million in 2023.
In response, Norway last week pledged to advance its annual donation to help fill the void. Espen Barth Eide, Oslo’s foreign minister, told The National on Friday that his country is set to transfer about $26 million to UNRWA.
Thousands of people are eligible to submit nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, including lawmakers and cabinet members of all countries, former laureates and some university professors.
Some other known candidates are also tied to the Israel-Hamas war. The Palestinian organization Al-Haq and Israel’s B’Tselem have also been nominated, according to AFP.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce the winner in October.
Last year, the award was given to imprisoned Iranian women’s rights activist Narges Mohammadi “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran.”
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a visiting delegation of United Nations ambassadors that “UNRWA is totally infiltrated [by] Hamas.”
Furthermore, the premier called to replace the U.N. agency because it perpetuates the Palestinian “refugee” issue, preventing Israel-Palestinian peace.
“It has been in the service of Hamas and its schools, and in many other things. I say this with great regret because we hoped that there would be an objective and constructive body to offer aid. We need such a body today in Gaza. But UNRWA is not that body. It has to be replaced by some organization or organizations that will do that job,” said Netanyahu.